Lifeink

The life and words of Ashley, Erin, and Michelle

Wedding Salutations April 28, 2010

This past weekend I was part of a wedding party. It’s always an honor, and this was especially exciting, as I introduced the bride and groom. (I made sure to brag about it, too!)

photo by Anne Harrigan

After having been in so many weddings (this was my sixth) and having been a guest at many more, I have yet to find a go-to wedding gift. I’d written earlier about finding the perfect go-to shower gift, but weddings are a whole different animal. Usually, I resort to something off of the registry.

But then there’s a new problem: what do you write on the card?

It doesn’t help when you leave to the last minute (even during the reception!) and you brain is so mushed you can’t think of much to say beyond something generic like, “Congratulations! God bless!” But when you’re at the wedding of a writer, that hardly seems to suffice.

So, I’ve tried to come up with some creative wedding salutations since then. Here’s what I have so far:

  • For those Dr. Who fans: “May your love be like a tardis, normal to the typical passersby, but unbounded by time and space by those who enter in.”
  • For those Creative Memories scrapbookers out there: “May all your memories together be creative.”
  • For all the Photoshop lovers out there: “May your love for one another be like Photoshop: able to turn a grey sky blue, a frown to a smile and change your focus to what matters most.”
  • For those supermodels who marry each other: “May you love looking at one another as much as you love looking at yourself.” (Okay, I don’t have any friends who are that vain, but I was trying to think of something out of the box.)

How about you? What creative wedding salutations can you come up with?

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Go-To Gifts for Bridal Showers March 16, 2010

It seems like everyone dreads a bridal shower. Whether it’s the games or the socialite interaction between people who have only the bride in common, it’s an accepted obligation that people do not seem to look forward to when they are preparing for a friend’s wedding.

And then there’s the gift. What do you get for a wedding shower gift? According to most bridal shower etiquette web sites, I have found that the gift should cost anywhere between $25 and $75, depending on the type of shower, and it should be something useful for the house. That makes sense to me.

But it also says that the bride’s registry should not be advertised in the invitations and should be spread via “word of mouth” or on a wedding web site. This is  something I think a lot of couples are starting to ignore, as most of the invitations to wedding showers I’ve received (or sent) in the past couple years have included registry tags.

If you haven’t noticed already, I am “going through that phase in life” where all my friends are marrying and being merry. After not knowing what to get after the first one or two, I decided I needed to find a unique go-to gift that I can give so that I don’t have to end up buying a bunch of dish towels every time someone got married. (It’s just not fun enough to give just that in my opinion.)

It didn’t take me long to find something fun that people will remember and that people will find practical: Plungers!

How often does a person get a gift of a plunger? And women who are getting married usually don’t think of the fact that guys tend to need a plunger a little more often than girls do.

From that decision came the question, “How do I wrap this?” That’s when I was able to get a little bit creative.

The first time, I found a bucket to put it in and wrapped it using some black towels rather than some paper. (Make it as useful as possible, right?) That worked for a couple of times, but it’s difficult trying to wrap a bucket in a towel. Normally, it’s a towel in a bucket, so I decided to decorate the plunger like a flower.

I used the bucket as a pot and bought two brown towels for the dirt. I wrapped the base of the plunger in the towels and taped on construction paper petals and leaves. It was cute, I’ll admit. The bride even gave me the “award” for the most creatively wrapped gift. But I kept thinking back to my logic before, “Why not make all of it useful?” That’s why I’d wrapped it in towels instead.

So, last time I had a bridal shower to attend, I scoured the shelves for something that would look like flower petals and for something I could use as the leaves. I found a green dish cloth for the leaves and some sponges for the petals. I ended up tying both of them on with ribbon. It turned out cute, and the bride loved it. Of course.

Each plunger is specially chosen for the couple’s situation and personalities. Not everyone can use a full-size plunger, so I even bought a sink plunger for my friends who would be travelling by airplane back and forth between London and the States.

If you’re attending a shower sometime soon, you’re welcome to use my idea, just make sure I’m not already going to the shower, too. Otherwise, neither of us will get the award for most creative gift.

And one last thing: when I get married, I just ask that everyone else does not get me a plunger. Trust me, I own too many already.

So, what’s your go-to gifts for a bridal shower? Or even for a wedding?

 

December Dealings Day 11 December 11, 2009

Filed under: Journaling,Life in General — michellehuegel @ 8:45 pm
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Dec. 11th

After a very rough night with Cai and fighting with Josh to help out a little (he’s a different person at 2 a.m.), I decided that mommy needed a break. Fridays are Josh’s day off so I nursed Cai a little before noon and left him, sending up a little prayer that everyone and everything would be in one piece when I returned. I spent the afternoon at my mom’s working on the Christmas calendars. Picked up some ink at Wal-Mart and had my dad get the matte photo paper at Best Buy (evidently that’s too specialized for Wal-Mart to carry??). Mom and I even managed to slip in the Top Chef season finale!! It was remarkably peaceful. I went back to get Cai around 5, and amazingly, he had been fed, changed, put down for a nap, and seemed no worse for wear. The house, on the other hand… well, houses can be cleaned. It appeared that Josh had tried to build a play-yard of sorts to contain from all the available items in the living room.

Tonight I might stay with Cai at my parents, it’s so freezing cold and icky outside. I hate packing everything up and going home then trying to settle Cai down again to sleep. We’ll see. I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished today – got the first mini calendar all printed. Tomorrow hopefully I’ll cut out the pages and assemble it. I dread the final step—adding physical embellishments—because it requires me to dive into the deep dark hole of my parents’ basement to find the supplies. Pray for my safe return…

 

December Days 9 and 10

Filed under: Journaling,Life in General,Photos — michellehuegel @ 8:11 pm
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Dec. 9th

Winter set in with an attitude today. I think we’d all become a bit complacent with our nice fall weather (remember that 8″ snow deficit in November?), and Winter had to remind us that we do, in fact, live in Michigan! Now it’s making up for lost time with extra nastiness. Fifty-mile-plus winds today, plus a few inches of snow and cold temps equals icy roads and a noisy mobile home. Cai and I took refuge from the things banging on our house and visited my parents. Real houses are much quieter. He’s still feeling icky, but hopefully is on the mend. Seemed a little better today than yesterday. Last night was very rough, he finally ended up in bed with me after mommy got tired of getting up and down. So neither of us slept well.

I just realized that we leave for Christmas traveling in a little over ONE WEEK!! EEEEK!! I’m trying to kick my calendar-gifts production into overdrive, which meant I got three pages done today. Woo-hoo. I figure I have at least 36 different pages to do, more if you count just switching out photos. Then go buy the paper and ink. Then print. Then embellish. Then assemble. Then wrap. Then stick on these cute little photo gift tags that Picture People gave us for free in the hopes we would buy more but we didn’t because we’re cheap and besides I won’t use more than 20 or so anyway.

I have a long ways to go. It would help if I’d ban myself from Facebook, but the problem with banning yourself is that it’s been historically proven to be a bad governmental model. If the same person is judge, jury, and executioner they’re not likely to pass or enforce the death penalty (read: no FB) on themselves. When’s the last time you read about some old-time king finding himself guilty of treason and ordering himself executed? Not in my history books. So, since it won’t work anyway there’s no point.

This week when you see me on Facebook give me a shout and tell me to get back to Christmas presents, because I don’t have the self-discipline to tell myself. 🙂

Dec. 10th

Today, for the first time in weeks I think, Cai and I stayed home all day. We didn’t shrivel  and die or turn into shy, maladjusted human beings from the lack of contact with other people. It was actually rather nice. We snuggled and played, and Cai napped (yay!). I finished several more calendar pages, and made sure to keep up on cleaning “maintenance.” Of course, we kept Christmas music playing! That is, when Cai wasn’t changing the station, turning the radio off, or switching to CD (he loves the stereo). Josh came home early from work, unfortunately, because they didn’t have enough to keep him busy. He finished sealing our door to keep out the bitter cold sub-zero-wind-chill temperatures, and braved the cold to pick up a few essentials at the grocery store for me. I need to embark on a serious grocery shopping excursion this week, but not sure the budget will allow me to. I hate money, especially around Christmas time. Such a spoilsport.

In case you’re curious about how the calendars are coming, here’s a sneak peek at one of the pages ready to be printed:

 

December Drama Days 6 and 7 December 7, 2009

Regurgitated directly from my brain for your reading … uh … pleasure. I hope.

Dec. 6th

After church and an amazing lunch at my mom’s (we’re all enjoying the fruits of her being home instead of working all day!), we spent the day with Josh’s family. I always enjoy that time, because they take over Cai and let me chill out with my computer or TV or whatever! “Nana” insists on feeding, changing, playing with, and cuddling him—which gives me a much-needed break! I wish they could see him more often, but once a week or every other week is the most we can afford to get down to Mishawaka. Gas is expensive. L

I spent most the afternoon shopping for and poring over Christmas calendar gift ideas. Everyone seemed to like them last year, but I don’t want to do the same exact thing (digital-scrap 4×6 size pages, insert into photo flip books, paper-scrap-decorate front cover). So I FINALLY settled on some cute CD and mini (smaller than 4×6) calendar templates. I had no clue how many options were out there! Wish I had time to design my own from scrap, but unfortunately using templates and choosing my own paper/embellies is as good as it’s gonna get this year. I mean, with a new baby, something’s gotta go, right? I still haven’t decided on a Christmas card. Too many options. I really don’t do well with an overabundance of choices. Entrepreneurs have oversaturated the market (any market) with waaaay too many options. Hazardous for decision-challenged shoppers like me!

Dec. 7th

Can it possibly be one whole week into December?! Where did the days go?? Oh yeah, I have a documented record of where they went, so no funny business possible. Today I furthered my Christmas spirit by playing Cat Country 99.9 (all-Christmas music all the time in December!) while madly cleaning. Finally eked out a place for stockings on the wall behind our midget tree. My immediate family never did the stocking thing, but my Lewis grandparents always hung a stocking for each grandchild, and it’s a family tradition to get a picture of all the kids in front of the “stocking wall” every Christmas. Over the years, there has been some discussion of changing walls, since we really don’t fit anymore. One line of grandkids has become about three rows! There’s now 12 “full-blooded” grandkids, but usually there’s extra every year—foreign exchange students, foster kids of my aunt’s, step-grandkids, boyfriends, etc. All that to say, I’ve always loved opening my stocking, stuffed full of fun and useful little goodies, candy, gum, and so on. So the Huegel household is going to open stockings this year :). A new tradition we’re going to start is writing letters to each other to stick in the stockings, which will hopefully become a sweet keepsake. Or that’s the plan. Maybe it’ll be really lame. But every great tradition must start sometime, right?

On a more depressing note, Cai fussed through most the day. I’m fairly impressed with how much I got done despite his rough day. Spent two hours trying to get him down for a nap, and still ended up letting him cry himself to sleep. Same story for bedtime. As I write this, it’s 10:27, and he just finally quit crying in his crib within the last few minutes. I put him to bed for the first time before 8pm.  We had been doing much better, so I suspect he’s not feeling well. At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself. It’s easier to feel sorry and “motherly” for him instead of irritated that way. Any mothers out there who’ve done the same thing? Maybe I’m just weird or something. Wait, I already knew that…

So anyone else out there making Christmas gifts? What are you making? Cookies, handmade cards, photo books, calendars, scarves, potholders? I need more ideas! 🙂

 

Birthdays & Broken Toys October 5, 2009

Filed under: Life in General — Erin Joy @ 5:42 pm
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My birthday is this week. One of the little girls in our church turns four today and is having a big birthday celebration. As a result, I’ve been thinking about gifts and children’s toys. Considering I’m twenty years older than my little friend, I don’t anticipate receiving the party and gifts like she will be.

The only gift I’ve received this year was a cute little notebook in the shape of a purse and two cute candle holders from my secret sister. Being the youngest in the whole thing, I tend to get gifts that, well, clearly point out that age difference. 🙂 But that’s okay, it makes me smile inside every time, knowing that whoever my secret sister is understands I’m still just a kid in many ways.

Thinking about kids’ gifts, though, I came to realize that there are two days in every typical child’s year that tend to be much more tragic than any other day: the day after Christmas and the day after their birthday. Those are the days that most of their toys tend to break. That is, unless you have an extremely particular child who never breaks anything. (If you do, I’d like to meet your child because that’s not normal.) Many even consider the day after Christmas National Whiner’s Day due to this.

Last month, I had the privilege of watching two birthday children the day after their birthday party. By lunch time, a crown, a drumstick and a drum had busted. Who knows what other new toys I missed as they were dismembered while I was off making pb & j sandwiches for lunch? The mother of these kids likes to claim that they are “curiously destructive”. I like that term.

That brings me to ask a few questions about children’s toys:

(1) Why is it that the annoying ones are the ones that never seem to die and the other toys just fall apart within a day’s time? I think toy makers intentionally do this to parents and childcare providers. Batteries seem to last longer on the obnoxious toys (and, thankfully, we can never seem to find replacements once they do).  As for the trinket-type toys, they break by the end of the day from either being stepped on or torn apart by children who wonder why they don’t make the same obnoxious noises as their other toys. I’ve decided that someone needs to make sturdy, non-obnoxious toys before I have kids.

(2) Why is it that people always think that they’re giving kids something fun when they give them a cheap $.25 toy that’s going to make them cry when they break it the next day? I have to confess, it’s easy to do. You think to yourself, “Oh, little Johnny will like this” even though you’re simultaneously thinking, “This toy is a piece of crap with a price tag.” Sadly, it’s too easy to let that sentimental side convince you that, while you know the toy is going to break soon after the child receives it, the smile on his or her face is worth that measly $.25. But is it really? Maybe, if you’re not the one who has to deal with the broken toy later.

What do you think? Are toys made sturdy enough for kids? Or do we just buy the cheap ones because they’re inexpensive?

Did you have a favorite toy when you were a kid? Was it prone to breakage, or did you know to keep it out of harm’s way?